Hulu Plus Frees Humanity; Dish Network Cries

By November 5, 2010

For those that don’t know, Hulu is a web portal that has partnerships with the major television networks and allows you to watch the television programs you like for free, whenever you want.

When the rumors of Hulu first surfaced way back in the Dark Ages (2007), there was a rumor that NBC and News Corp (FOX) were teaming up to “compete with Youtube.” Google was apparently unimpressed and referred to the new project as the “Clown Company”

Things got real when, 5 months later, “Clown Co.” called itself Hulu and launched its free service supported by video ad revenue and earned a $1 Billion dollar valuation in the process.

Ever since those heady days Hulu has grown in popularity while more and more consumers get fed up with their cable service and “cut the cable cord.” The thing is, people may refer to it as “cutting the cord” but it applies equally to ditching crappy satellite service as well. I am convinced there is a level of hell where the executives of cell carriers, cable TV, satellite providers and airlines all slow roast while being forced to use each others’ crappy service.

GigaOm reports that this is precisely the scenario that terrifies Dish Network VP of Online Content Development and Strategy Bruce Eisen. Speaking at the Streaming Media West Conference, he said, “If I can watch Glee tomorrow morning and I don’t have to pay a pay TV service —- I think that’s bad,”

Yeah, bad for YOU and your outdated, overpriced service Bruce. As far as the rest of humanity is concerned, its long overdue. Many people seem to forget in TV’s early days, network TV was free (and still is via HD antenna). Now we all pay a cable company or satellite service for 200 channels we never watch along with 10 or 15 we do. Bruce is worried that we’ll all wise up and leave the pay service hell forever.

Hulu is happy to provide an alternative and yesterday Hulu Plus left beta and became available to everyone. For $9.99 a month, Hulu users can watch programs immediately after they are on TV or very soon thereafter in addition to being able to watch on a host of different devices with a list that keeps growing. (Even your PS3!)

On the bus and want to watch your favorite show on your iPad? Done. Want to watch on your flatscreen TV from the couch? Your phone? Hulu Plus is answering the call.

On Wednesday, November 3rd, I saw a presentation at Ignite Chicago on this very topic (video coming to Flyover Geeks soon) and I happen to know the creator of an immensely popular online show called, “Goodnight Burbank” that is 110% better (and funnier) than the stuff on regular cable. The best part? Hulu is going to be offering with its new launch soon.

Cable TV/Satellite has been tottering along for longer than it should have offering broadband service that is embarrassingly sup-par when compared to offerings in Asia and Europe and stifles competition and innovation wherever it can. Hulu Plus is a big step forward in giving choice back to consumers and ditching the middle men.

It is going to be interesting to watch the pay-tv providers mount a counterattack, and I am sure we can expect one soon. While I have used Hulu since it first launched, I’m in the early adopter crowd and most of the nation still pays for TV and the pay models are going to push hard to fight Hulu and any other innovator that gives choice to the consumers.